Teamwork and dedication brought volunteers from the 440th Maintenance Squadron, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and civilians together to refurbish a World War II, 105 millimeter howitzer cannon located at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Hope Mills, N.C.
Jackie Warner, mayor of Hope Mills, presented the volunteers with certificates of appreciation May 6, at the board of commissioners meeting. The volunteers were recognized for their hard work, not only with refurbishing the cannon, but also with cleaning up the park.
“There were approximately nine volunteers who spent their weekends helping with this project,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Slade, structural maintenance supervisor of the 440th MXS. “We not only preserved the cannon, but we pressured washed the benches and cleaned up the park to make it nicer and more presentable for the community of Hope Mills.”
The cannon, which was designed to provide light and field artillery support for tactical infantry units, was beginning to become an eyesore and a safety hazard and was going to be removed from the park if it wasn’t restored.
“Before we began the refurbishing process, we assessed the cannon and took what we could apart,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dudley, 440th MXS. “We took the parts we could back to the shop where we sand blasted them, got rid of the rust and corrosion and then painted them. We did the same with the parts left on-site.”
Senior Airman Brandon Hamilton, 440th MXS, said that he and team leader Staff Sgt. Marcus Martinis researched the cannon to make sure they got the original color scheme correct in order to preserve the historical value of the piece.
Not only did they verify the colors were as close to the original as possible, volunteers also ensured they took into consideration the surrounding elements to make sure they did quality work.
“We wanted to make sure we used our knowledge and tools to do the best job possible so the community would not have to worry about this issue happening again anytime soon,” said Dudley.
Hamilton said that this project showed the community that members in the military are normal people and showed servicemember’s willingness to get involved and help one another.
It is not only important to service- members to get involved with the community, but also the importance of total force integration.
“The work done between the active-duty members, ART’s, JROTC and civilians shows how we can all work together as a team and set a good example to everyone,” said Dudley. “We are all under the same flag and it is important that we can all work together to accomplish goals.”
A special thank you goes out to James E. Clark, Freedom Team salute ambassador, who provided this opportunity; Staff Sgt. Martinis who stepped up and was the leader of the project, the volunteers and the community of Hope Mills.